The time has finally come. After no new releases last weekend, the box office is sure to have a hell of a comeback this time as we have two new wide releases, one of which is gunning for a few records. Of course, we’re talking about It, but also opening is Home Again, which will be a smaller movie in comparison, but will also be making some moolah this weekend. All right, let’s get going.
So for It, we’re looking at a perfect storm. First off, Stephen King adaptations have been all over the place through the years, but this one has such a storied past that no matter how good or bad it would turn out, there’s always an audience for it. Also, we’ve gotten three piss poor weekends in a row at the box office, some of them record lows. On top of that you’ve got some up-and-coming talents starring in the film like Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, and Finn Wolfhard, most of them known from Netflix projects and other films, but the social media presence has been noted as one of the better campaigns in recent memory. Also, you’ve gotten phenomenal trailers and TV spots that have scared the bejesus out of coulrophobia sufferers, or people who are afraid of clowns. And to top it all off, you’ve got critics really digging the film with a current 89% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. Now a month ago or so I was shooting high saying $50 million, but now low-end estimates are saying close to $55 million, with tracking currently at $70 million. Wow! I’m thinking maybe the film is being over-hyped a bit with those inflated numbers, and I’m not gonna say it’s impossible, but I’ll lend a bit more on the conservative side with $67 million. Now, for the September record, all It has to do is beat $48.4 million, set by Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015), which is pretty much a given. It is also likely to take down the record for highest opening weekend for a horror film, which by my records goes back to Signs (2002) with $60.1 million. Even the record for biggest opening in New Line history is at stake, that record is The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) with $72.6 million. So watch the initial reports starting tomorrow afternoon and then we’ll see just how historic or anti-climactic this weekend is going to be for a film with a small title but what could be a huge impact. 4,103 theaters will be releasing it, so we’re looking at $16,330 as the per-theater average.
With all that out of the way, let’s get to the second place bet, which will be Home Again. While we’ve got a cast like Reese Witherspoon, Candice Bergen and Michael Sheen headlining the cast, the trailers have been pretty mixed and the critics aren’t on its side: only 29% of Rotten Tomatoes’ critics have given it a good review, and with marketing being okay at best, this might normally be a recipe for a film opening very low, but with the giant slump we’ve been in for nearly a month, I think the female audience that’s looking for a relatively safe bet film like this will actually be going. Tracking has been soft with an estimated $8.9 million for its opening weekend, but I’m going higher with $11.5 million. 2,940 theaters are playing it, so for the per-theater average expect $3,912.
The rest of the top five will be leftovers from the previous few weeks, with The Hitman’s Bodyguard expected to fall to third place with another $6.3 million, off 40% from Labor Day’s three day weekend numbers. Also going off of those numbers, I expect Wind River to take fourth place with another $4.9 million, off 20%, and in fifth place, dealing with direct competition this weekend, will be Annabelle: Creation, which I see falling 60% and hitting $3 million its fifth weekend, though Leap! is the only recent release that family audiences can go to, and I wouldn’t imagine the kids wanting to see It, despite kids being all over the marketing for the film, so that could be very close for that fifth spot.
Okay, let’s get going with what happened with the top five at the box office over the Holiday weekend last week, and again we’re only going off of the three day totals Friday-Sunday, and not including the numbers collected actually on Labor Day last Monday. Okay, so not surprisingly The Hitman’s Bodyguard retained the top spot with $10.5 million, which was actually up 2% from its previous weekend. I had it falling 40% just because I thought the numbers would be that bad. Oh, well. Next up, Annabelle: Creation, which only dropped 2% and made another $7.5 million, much higher than my $4.9 million prediction. In third place, Wind River, up 35% and making $6.2 million, way off from my $3.9 million guess. That’s where things really fell off for me. Fourth place I had going to the re-release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), which really disappointed, in 14th place with $1.7 million, not even close to my $3.5 million estimate. I guess nobody really cared for that one. Leap! took fourth place with $4.8 million, up 2%, and that was my fifth place predictor, only at $2.6 million, so yeah, not good. Actual fifth place went to Logan Lucky, which was up 4% from its previous weekend. And the other film everybody talked about last weekend, then immediately forgot about, was Tulip Fever, which landed in 24th place with $1.1 million, even lower than my $1.5 million prediction, but seriously that’s the closest I got to actually hitting the right numbers. Well, we’re expecting the vise-versa situation this weekend with, yeah, the chance for many records, and I’m hoping for the best for It, because here at the domestic box office, we need a turnaround that can help us gain ground, but if you’re curious, looking at this same weekend last year, Sully (2016) over-performed with $35 million, so we really need It and Home Again to hit it big for 2017 to try to beat 2016, but we’ve got some heavy-hitters left for the last four months of the year.